GREEN BAY – Based on what he was told by the team upon his release on Feb. 15, Charles Woodson does not believe a return to the Green Bay Packers is a possibility.
Appearing on NFL Network’s Total Access on Thursday night, the ex-Packers defensive back said general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy essentially told him exactly that when they said goodbye.
“I don’t want to speculate on that because I have not heard anything from Green Bay,” Woodson said. “We parted our ways a couple months ago. They told me they were moving on. I guess I took that to mean there was no opportunity to go back. So I am looking for a future with another organization.”
When asked at the NFL Meetings in March if the team might be interested in bringing Woodson back at a reduced rate, McCarthy didn’t have an answer.
“I’m sure that’s something that I mean we could … I haven’t been part of that conversation,” he replied.
Asked why the team restructured linebacker A.J. Hawk’s contract to take a pay cut but never broached the subject with Woodson, McCarthy replied, “I’m not going to get into those business talks. Frankly, I’m not even part of that. I couldn’t give you an accurate answer on the conversations on either one of those guys.”
Woodson isn’t the only big-name – or possible future Pro Football Hall of Famer – currently out of work. Brian Urlacher, Dwight Freeney and Richard Seymour are also currently unemployed, and although John Abraham has visited a few teams, he’s yet to sign anywhere.
Woodson made it clear that he wants to play in 2013, and after originally saying he wanted to go to a Super Bowl contender, he’s now willing to play anywhere.
“If it were left up to me, I will be in the NFL again this coming season. Right now, it is kind of slow out there, the options have dried up but I am still waiting for an opportunity to play for a team, help a team win. So I plan on playing in the future,” said Woodson, whose only post-Packers visit was to the San Francisco 49ers. “It is kind of the process, but at the same time it is frustrating. You have guys that can flat-out play football.
“You look at Dwight Freeney and what he is able to do. They had a system last year that is different than he is used to playing, but he can play football. John Abraham, he led his team in sacks and you say, ‘We don’t have a spot for you on our roster?’ I can’t understand that. Myself, I am just a ball player. I need to be on a team.”
Woodson fractured his collarbone Oct. 21 in St. Louis – the second time he has done so, having broken it in Super Bowl XLV – and wound up playing only 625 snaps while missing nine games. He registered 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and had five missed tackles before the injury, then returned to action for the team’s two playoff games. Set to turn 37 in October, he may not find a team willing to take a chance on him, even with his Hall of Fame resume.
As for playing for a contender, Woodson replied: “When this process first started out, that was my thing – I needed to go to a contender. I know I am towards the end of my career. At this point, I want to play football. So if it is a rebuilding stage, at this point if that is the circumstances I have to play under, then that is what I am going to do.”
Woodson was also asked, in the wake of NBA center Jason Collins coming out as gay, how an openly gay teammate would be treated by teammates.
“With Jason Collins coming out and letting everybody know he was gay, it forces you to deal with it. If you’re someone who is against gay people, then my question is what you’re going to do once a player comes out in your locker room? Are you going to quit football?” Woodson said. “If you’re a coach and you don’t like the fact that a player is gay, are you going to stop coaching? I don’t think so.
“It would force guys to deal with it and you’d get over it. I’m sure there are probably players in the locker room that have thought another player was gay in the past. It’s not going to stop you from playing football. Life will go on and everybody will keep going out there doing their job.”
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